Throughout last NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys decided to implement an offensive system that was centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Dak Prescott would hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy was successful, the Cowboys called a play action pass where Dak would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards down field. However, on occasion, Dak would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily which allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Cowboys offense was able to stay on the field for a longer period which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Cowboys offense was on the field for an average of “31:23” thus the defense was only on the field for 28:37.
Although this offensive system is expected to be in place for the foreseeable future, there is a reason to believe that the Cowboys will alter the system in 2019. 2019 is currently scheduled to be the final year Dak Prescott’s rookie contract. Therefore ownership is going to put pressure on the coaching staff to feature Prescott as the focal point of the offense. This is because ownership will want to see if Dak can make all the throws and carry the offense without depending on Elliott before they make a decision on whether to give him a franchise quarterback contract. As a result, the Cowboys will dial back on the play action bootlegs where he would fake the handoff to the running backs and roll out in the opposite direction to hit the wide open tight end. Instead, they will call the traditional three to five step drop passing plays to gauge whether Dak can make the right decision with the football when the defense is ready for a pass. The combination of these factors means that the offense will spend less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays that result in short drives. As a consequence of this, the defense is likely to be on the field for a longer period which means that the opposing team has more time to feast on them. Therefore it is safe to say that the Cowboys best opportunity to reach the super bowl is in the next two years.